Art is Smart
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.”
—Georgia O’Keeffe, artist
High school is a time of great uncertainty and challenges—both social and academic. Children are struggling to forge an identity while planning for their future—whether for college or a job. They can be very emotional, swinging from friendly to hostile, dependent to independent, in only a matter of minutes. They know they’re going to leave home soon and they worry about how to balance their individuality in a larger world. They’re asking: What is really important? Will I succeed at making a living, having a family, contributing to my community? What do I want to be respected for?
These years are hard for high school students, and hard for their parents, too. Fortunately, the arts can be a vital tool for success, especially when kids are struggling with big questions.
In fact, arts education helps:
- provide positive, constructive, creative pathways that develop kids’ confidence and allows them to express complex feelings and ideas.students to think and learn creatively while taking risks within a safer environment.
- kids collaborate and engage positively with others.
- teens become more tolerant of differences because the arts can immerse them in unfamiliar cultures that span other times and other countries.
- develop the kind of problem-solving skills that employers are looking for in a highly competitive workforce.
- spur curiosity, which helps develop lifelong learners.
You also can support your child’s interests in the arts at home. This will not only help improve his academic achievements, but will help you to communicate with each other. You can…
Encourage your teen to visit museums. Some museums offer free passes and programs for teens. Check your local community paper for weekly listings.
Attend concerts, plays, and other performances together. Many cities offer free concerts and dance performances all year round. Research nonprofit organizations dedicated to making the arts affordable for teens.
Inspire your teen to use technology to make or appreciate art. Computer-based video and music programs are often helpful when producing original pieces.
Help your teen find and apply for internships in the creative sector, including advertising, video game design, fashion, theater management, dance studios, and more. Internships teach kids a great deal about employer expectations (e.g. how to be on time, dress appropriately, adhere to instructions, communicate clearly, and use standard English instead of slang or text/abbreviated language ).Working in the creative sector can illustrate many different ways that your child can contribute, succeed, and derive satisfaction from work.
Ask what art your teen saw or heard recently—at work, at school, out and about. What did he like and why? How would the piece be different if any one element were changed — the color, the presence or absence or emphasis of outlines or, in music, a particular instrument? What if the size of the piece were smaller or larger? Was anything surprising?
Most of all, encourage your teen to ask questions, to look for answers, and to continue to explore the world. The goal is for your child to become a lifelong learner who continues to grow as an individual and to contribute to society.